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  • Viewpoint: 4 Strategies to Differentiate and Grow Your Practice

    Viewpoint is a column created by AAOE® specifically for ophthalmologists and leaders in practice management.
    Establishing yourself as an expert is one of the most successful marketing strategies for making your business stand out in a crowd. The most effective way that physicians can position their expertise to prospective patients, referring physicians and others is by developing and sharing thought leadership content.

    What is thought leadership content? 
    Simply put, it’s content that you communicate to all your stakeholders about your unique talent, experience and passion and how your expertise can meet their needs. It’s a highly effective approach for differentiating and building your practice. Thought leadership content builds authority, resonates with prospective patients and referral sources and proves your expertise. 

    Consider implementing these four strategies over the next 12 months:

    1. Publish Content for Prospective Patients
    Create a content calendar, generate topics and regularly publish educational content on your website. For most ophthalmology practices the easiest way to add this type of content is by adding a blog — an easy task on most modern content management systems. 

    Add original content to your website to increase your online findability. Publishing original content will help you climb organic search rankings, and it will also build your authority as a go-to source for hyper-relevant medical information. When prospective patients visit your website and find fresh, relevant content, they’ll naturally see you as a guide who can help them solve their problems.

    The Academy, in support of its monthly eye health observances, provides template articles, news releases and social media posts that you can download and customize to communicate with your patients. Use these resources to inspire safe choices and empower your patients.

    2. Develop Premium Content to Capture Leads
    You can also create premium thought leadership content which requires a website visitor to fill out a form, providing a first name and email address, before downloading the content. Think high-value PDF downloads like e-books, checklists, comparison guides and other similar resources. You can also create interactive offers like quizzes, surveys and more.

    Higher-end collateral can engage prospective patients, help educate them and help them along on their journey to become a patient. For example, if you are a refractive surgeon, you could offer a more in-depth treatise on LASIK surgery that has more information than on the websites of other practices. This would differentiate you and your practice from others. The ultimate goal is to provide an easy mechanism where patients can reach back to your practice to schedule a formal consultation.

    3. Create Content for Referring Clinicians
    Referral sources will be more likely to send patients to your practice with confidence when they’re reading about your extensive knowledge.

    To help build and develop your referral pipeline, consider thought leadership content that speaks directly to optometrists or other referral sources. For example, if you are a retina specialist, consider creating in-depth guides or explanation pieces. They can cover topics such as diabetic retinopathy, intricate parts of the eye, diseases or disorders and other complex areas that will establish your practice as the expert in the field and help clinicians who do not understand these intricate areas of the eye as well as you do. 

    4. Use Video to Build Connection
    Video is a fantastic medium for building authority, trust and connection for prospective patients or referral sources. In an increasingly digital and isolated world, video can be the next best thing to in-person communication. 

    Whether more professionally produced or shot with a smartphone, video can warm up prospective patients, showing off the human beings behind your practice brand. Quick, two-to-four-minute explainer videos or Q&A formats can go a long way towards cementing your practice as the expert in your space.

    Don’t just tell prospective patients and referral sources that you’re the expert. Show them. Creating valuable thought leadership content using any of the strategies above will help build your practice and help you stand out from the competition. 

    About the Author

    Jim Flynn is the executive vice president and chief brand strategist at ONEFIRE, a health care marketing agency specializing in maximizing revenue generation potential for ophthalmology practices, specialty and subspecialty clinics, hospitals and medical device manufacturers. You can reach him at